If you own rural land, you may need to install a septic tank and a septic tank cover to take care of your wastewater.
A septic tank riser and cover are two necessary components to ensure accessibility to your septic tank as well as the safety of your family.
If you need more information about septic tank covers before you decide, keep reading.
We’ve got all the information you need to know.
1. What is a septic tank cover?
A septic tank lid covers the opening to your septic tank.
It also identifies where your septic tank is, so you can find it when it’s time to inspect or clean it.
As a septic tank owner, you are required to have a septic tank cover.
This lid prevents small children and animals from falling into the septic tank.
A septic tank cover or lid can have many different designs.
Sometimes it’s concrete and other times it’s colored or shaped like a rock to blend into its surroundings.
It’s a personal choice of the landowner to decide what you want your septic tank cover to look like.
2. What is a septic tank riser?
When discussing septic tank covers, you may also hear about risers.
While related, risers serve a different purpose.
A septic tank riser also covers the opening of the septic tank.
However, instead of lying flat, it’s normally raised anywhere from 12 to 30 inches off the ground.
It provides access to the opening, so you easily put septic additives into the tank or check your fill level.
Septic tank risers also help prevent grass and dirt from growing around the opening, which can make a lid difficult to open.
You’ll still need a septic tank cover if you install a riser.
This is a lid that fits securely on top of the riser.
In some cases, it sits flush with the ground.
If your riser is raised above the ground, then it’ll sit securely on top of the riser itself.
It’s incredibly useful because it eliminates digging and searching for your septic tank while also adding accessibility for pumping, maintenance, and inspections.
3. How can you hide your septic tank cover?
Some septic tank covers are made to blend into the ground.
However, if yours sticks out like a sore thumb, then you may wonder if you can do something else to make it less evident in your yard.
Here are a few ideas.
First, determine what type of septic system you have.
Is it an aerobic septic system or a traditional septic system?
This decides what you can and cannot do to hide the septic tank cover.
For aerobic septic systems, you really can’t do much to hide it.
The system needs to be checked by a technician every four months, which means the lid needs to be exposed and accessible.
Even if you were to cover it, you’d be constantly uncovering it.
It’d be more inconvenient than anything else.
If you have a traditional septic system, you only need to pump it every three to five years.
So, you can use just about any temporary and movable object to cover your lid.
Here are the do’s and don’ts of hiding your septic tank.
Here are all the things we encourage you to consider if you think your septic tank cover is ugly and needs some sprucing up.
Plant tall native grasses with fibrous roots to help conceal the tank lid from view
Place a light statue, bird bath, or potted plant over the lid. It should be light enough that you can move it easily
Consider a septic tank riser or cover that will blend into the surrounding (either green or brown)
Purchase artificial landscape rocks that can slip over the cover for quick access when needed
Get movable rock gardens that can act as temporary disguises to completely conceal the area
Buy a mosaic lid cover that shows a beautiful mosaic design on top of a concrete septic cover
Paint the lid a corresponding color
Cut an old wine barrel in half and fill it with flowers to create an appealing alternative look
Make sure you don’t use any mortar or permanent substance when placing these items.
Your septic system still needs to be inspected periodically.
Here’s everything you should steer clear of for the sake of safety. Don’t…
Plant trees closer than 25 feet away from the drain field because they can grow long and strong roots that get tangled in or pierce the septic system
Plant anything permanent over the septic tank cover like grass
Put fencing near your drain field because it can cause issues if the stakes are too far down
Plant vegetable gardens nearby because they can cause serious problems in the drain field
Park on your drain field or put large lawn ornaments on top of it
Allow animals or pets into your drain field
Put a swing set or play equipment nearby because children should be kept away from septic components to prevent illness. They can also accidentally compact soil
Place a dog kennel nearby as it can cause illness in your pet or prompt digging in the wrong area
4. What are the benefits of a septic tank cover and riser?
When you install a septic tank riser, you bring the access point up to the surface and allow for better accessibility.
This can help you save both time and money over the years.
A septic tank access riser is normally made of plastic or concrete.
They are often between 8 and 24 inches in diameter.
If the septic tank riser and cover are properly installed, they serve several purposes and offer benefits.
Here’s why you should consider this installation:
The septic tank riser allows for easier septic system maintenance
The septic tank riser helps you access the pump tank
The septic tank cover prevents surface water or runoff from entering the septic tank
Both the cover and riser provide better access for septic tank inspections
The septic tank riser stops you from spending time locating the underground septic tank
Both the cover and riser save money as a one-time installation cost
The septic tank cover provides a watertight seal
The septic tank cover is attached securely and can improve landscape appearances
5. How do you find your septic tank?
If you’re searching for the septic tank cover to perform maintenance, it can take a little bit of work to find it.
The easiest scenario is when there’s a septic tank riser.
In this case, the cover will literally stick out of the ground, which is significantly easier for the eye to spot.
However, there are a few tricks you can use if you’re searching for a cover on the ground over acres of land.
Consult a map
This is the easiest option, and thus, the one you should try first.
Most counties will retain permit records of the installation of septic tanks at all addresses.
Before you go out and walk the property to search for the tank, you should look at the map where a diagram is depicting the location of the tank on the property.
If the county doesn’t have a record, then ask the homeowner.
In some cases, a diagram of the septic system can also be included as part of your home inspection when purchasing a property.
If the county or homeowner doesn’t have a record of the location, then you may be out of luck.
Search for a sign
Septic tanks are installed in a way that intends to hide them.
So, if the grass has grown back, it may be hard to identify where it is.
We recommend looking closely at your yard — as well as any high or low spots — that may indicate a buried tank.
Follow the pipe
A septic tank is installed along the sewer line that extends from the home into the front yard.
Head to the basement or crawl space and find the 4-inch sewer pipe where it leaves the house.
Find the location outside and mark it.
Stick a thin metal probe into the ground, locate the 4-inch sewer line, and follow it across the yard by probing it every 2 feet.
While some states require septic tanks to be at least five feet away from a house, most are around 10 to 25.
You’ll know you’ve found the tank when you feel the prob strike flat concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene.
Locate the lid
Your next task is to mark the perimeter of the tank.
Most septic tanks are rectangular and measure around 5 feet by 8 feet.
Mark this spot so you can find it again in the future and then call a professional to complete the inspection or cleaning.
6. How does a septic tank cover enhance safety?
Safety should be your number one priority on your land.
When it comes to dealing with your wastewater, a septic tank can be a great option, but it can also be a safety hazard if it isn’t set up correctly.
You want to make sure your septic tank is inspected and cleaned regularly to ensure it is working properly.
Both a septic tank cover and riser can make this maintenance easier and more accessible.
However, you want to make sure that your septic tank cover isn’t broken or cracked either.
If it is, then this can make your sewage treatment less reliable as water leaks into the tank from other sources.
Why would this matter?
Your septic tank functions through an organic treatment process.
If this is disruptive by external sources, then you’re in trouble!
7. How do you install a cover?
Before you can install a cover, you must first install a riser on a septic tank.
This is essentially the access port to your tank.
To do this, you should follow a few critical safety tips.
Avoid hitting any power lines.
Hitting a power line can be deadly.
If you’re unsure about the location of your power lines, look online at callbeforeyoudig.org.
Use the buddy system.
The fumes associated with exposed sewage can be harmful to living beings.
Always work in pairs in case you become unconscious.
Never leave an open septic tank unattended.
Once you take the lid off, be careful to work until the job is completed.
This way, no one will be unaware that the tank is open.
You should also keep children and pets away.
Evaluate your septic tank’s integrity.
If your septic tank is more than 20 years old, you should pump it to verify if it’s structurally sound and watertight.
If you find that your tank needs repairs, consider replacing it with a modern tank that will fare better.
Then, work with your local environmental health department to get the required permits for replacement.
Next, gather the materials and tools you’ll need for the installation.
To install a riser system, purchase the following parts:
- Tank adaptor ring (TAR)
- Kit for riser adapter rings
- Butyl rope
- Domed lid or flat lid
- Stainless steel screws
To dig up your septic tank, purchase the following parts:
- Septic system ‘as-built’ record drawing
- Measuring tape
- Probing tool
- Eye protection
- Work gloves
To cut the risers to the correct size, purchase the following parts:
- Saws (circular, saber/jig, and hand)
- Drill with a ¼” bit
- Rasp or file
- Marking pen
- Tape measure
To seal the risers to the tank, purchase the following parts:
- High-strength concrete patch mix
- Small bucket
- Mixing stick
Then, follow these steps to install access risers to your septic tank.
Uncover your septic tank
Once you’ve located your septic tank, start digging.
Dig out the entire top of your tank and remove all the dirt.
This will ensure you have a good seal.
You should locate two openings (one for the inlet and one for the outlet).
You’ll need a riser for each opening.
To properly install risers, all manholes (holes that are 24+ inches or square) must be retrofitted and the tank inlet and outlet baffle covers (if separate from the manholes) must also be retrofitted.
Remove the existing concrete lids and discard them after risers are installed.
Fit risers to component openings
Depending on the diameter of the septic tank manholes, large risers will sit on top or fit into the tank opening about 1-3 inches.
You should keep this in mind when determining the height of the riser.
It is always easier to trim off extra than it is to add more length.
Attach risers to septic tank
Clean off the top of the tank and remove all dirt and debris before attaching the risers.
Assemble the risers using butyl rope and then use a high-strength flexible concrete patch mix that hardens in 15 to 20 mins.
Seal the risers to the septic tank using this mix.
Secure the riser lid with screws and add cover
To avoid a safety hazard, secure a lid to the top of the riser with screws and add any additional septic tank cover you’d like to hide its existence.
You must have a septic tank cover for safety!
Update the look of your septic tank system with the tips above!
Most landowners don’t want their septic tank riser or lid to be an eyesore, and thus, they transform it with an attractive septic tank cover solution.
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Disclaimer: we are not lawyers, accountants or financial advisors and the information in this article is for informational purposes only. This article is based on our own research and experience and we do our best to keep it accurate and up-to-date, but it may contain errors. Please be sure to consult a legal or financial professional before making any investment decisions.